What does 1 Corinthians 2:3 mean?
ESV: And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
NIV: I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
NASB: I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling,
CSB: I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
NLT: I came to you in weakness — timid and trembling.
KJV: And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
NKJV: I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is reminding his Corinthian readers of his first encounters with them, when he first arrived in town to preach the gospel. He did not wow them with his great speaking skills. He did not try to impress them with his expansive knowledge and wisdom. He decided to only talk about Christ and His crucifixion.

Now Paul adds that, in fact, his presentations were marked by weakness, fear, and much trembling. It is unclear if this was normal for Paul or something unique to his time in Corinth. Some scholars suggest that he may have been sick or suffering through a period of low confidence. Others argue that perhaps Paul was not very impressive in person, generally, and understood that about himself. He remarks in 2 Corinthians 10:10 that one complaint people have with him is that his written words are strong while in person he is "weak" and his speaking is of "no account."

Paul's point now is that his weakness as a speaker at that time was actually a good thing because it put all of the focus on the cross of Christ and none of the focus on his presentation skills. Orators of his era were entertainers—amazing crowds with their verbal performance skills. Paul's apparent lack of theatrics, in its own way, was a major advantage in proving the truth of his message. The gospel can stand on its own without being "dressed up" by showmanship.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 2:1–5 begins with Paul asking the Corinthians to remember what he was like with them when he first came to Corinth. He did not tell them about Christ with impressive speaking skills and displays of knowledge. In fact, he was weak, fearful, and trembling. That was a deliberate tactic on Paul's part, for their good, so their faith would be based on God's power and not on any amount of impressive human wisdom.
Chapter Summary:
When Paul first came to Corinth, he did not present the gospel to them with lofty speech and impressive arguments. He presented the truth as simply as he could so their faith would be based on God's power and not human wisdom. Only those with God's Spirit can understand the truths revealed by God, including Christ crucified for human sinfulness. Those without God's Spirit are limited to what can be observed and worked out with human reason. God's Spirit makes it possible for us to understand and believe spiritual things.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 2 picks up Paul's train of thought from the middle of the previous chapter. He reminds the Corinthians that he did not make an impressive display of his own speaking skills or knowledge when he first came to them. He wanted their faith to be in God's power, not human wisdom. God's ultimate wisdom can only be understood spiritually, revealed to human beings through God's Spirit. Those without God's Spirit cannot understand spiritual things. As a result, they reject the idea of Christ crucified for human sin as foolish. Through the Spirit, spiritual people have the mind of Christ.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 5/26/2024 4:45:27 PM
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